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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Cuba pays tribute to Che Guevara
Raul Castro (left) and other veteran revolutionaries at the ceremony in Santa Clara
Ernesto Che Guevara would have been nearly 80 today had he lived
The memory of Latin American Marxist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara is being honoured in Cuba 40 years after his capture and summary execution.

About 10,000 people attended a ceremony at his mausoleum in Santa Clara, the town where he once fought a battle during Cuba's revolution.

Raul Castro, brother of ailing Cuban leader Fidel, was at the event.

Other commemorations are being held in Bolivia and Venezuela, countries where Argentine-born Che Guevara was active.

His heroic struggle and that of other revolutionaries will continue until savage capitalism is changed
Evo Morales
Bolivian president

He had travelled to Bolivia to help lead an uprising but was tracked down and killed by soldiers in 1967.

Che's ideas and looks have been captivating young people across the world since the late 1960s, his bearded face and beret acquiring iconic status.

His critics describe Che as a brutal man who ordered the execution of dozens of his opponents and helped move Cuba further towards communism in the early years of the revolution.

'Infinite revolutionary'

The ceremony in Santa Clara opened with Raul Castro reading out a message from Fidel.

A monument to Che in La Higuera village, Bolivia
A ceremony was held at the scene of Che's death in Bolivia

"I halt in my day-to-day combat to bow my head, with respect and gratitude, before the exceptional fighter who fell 40 years ago," the message said.

Suffering from intestinal illness, the 81-year-old Cuban leader handed over power to Raul 14 months ago.

Che's daughter Aleida Guevara said her father's work had been vindicated by the recent leftward shift in Latin America.

"Today Latin America begins to awaken and their dreams are coming true," she said in the mausoleum.

In Bolivia, the leftist President, Evo Morales, visited the site where Che was first buried after his execution, and addressed a crowd of mourners on a windswept hill just outside Vallegrande.

"Che lives," he said.

"His heroic struggle and that of other revolutionaries will continue until savage capitalism is changed.

"Latin America cannot continue being the backyard of American imperialism."

In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez described Che as an "infinite revolutionary" in a speech on TV just before the anniversary.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Che remembered by those who fought alongside him



SEE ALSO
Your pictures: Che Guevara images
08 Oct 07 |  In Pictures
Cubans honour Che as a hero
08 Oct 07 |  Americas
Che: The icon and the ad
05 Oct 07 |  Americas

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